Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jason Cohen: Six ways to work out whether advice is helpful to you

  • The Rules: There are no fixed and fast rules. 1 short post per day might work for professional bloggers with focus on impressions, but maybe not for a product blogs which might require lengthy detail.
  • Sales: Can a geek do sales better than a “professional” salesman? Perhaps. If you are building a software development tool, you probably understand the problems and its benefits better than any other salesman. You can answer “hard” technical question, you can execute a perfect demo and provide great support: which in some sense are sales. If you are selling a frying pan, it might be easier to train a professional salesman about the product and let him do his magic talk.
  • Trust your inexperienced gut: your “unconventional” ways of doing things might be the right thing for you. Pick things naturally right for you. Perhaps not doing the normal way is your competitive advantage.
  • Stuff changes, rules changes. What used to work might not work now.
  • King or Rich? Do you plan to run your business for life, or you plan to sell it for the right price? Is your business a lifestyle business, or business with high growth?
  • Bootstrap or Funded? Bootstrap needs to generate revenue stream as fast as possible, while the funded can focus on land grab and market share (think about monetization later).
  • Perhaps there is nothing wrong with running a one-man business with no sales team?
  • Less reading and more doing?

Patrick McKenzie: Software for underserved markets

  • Selling to women: Groupon, Farmville
  • Not Feature, Benefit? Software is boring, but people are interesting.
  • The Emotion Business: Make people feel smart, make beautiful things.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Karl Treier: 20 Tips When Starting a Busines

  • Be very clear why you are doing it
  • Don't judge by appearance
  • Once you decide to start a business, go for it.
  • Lead, Manage, Inspire, Make it happen
  • Don't be afraid to seek advice
  • Trust but verify
  • Be very careful about hiring friends
  • Retain your competency
  • Keep cash close
  • Buy second hand stuff
  • Use free software
  • If you decide to take investment, it'll cost you an arm and leg
  • Don't be overly optimistic about your financial projection
  • Sometimes you might fail for reasons you cannot predict
  • Keep striving for the goal
  • Negotiate with customer: Show me the money
  • Bad things happen, Don't Panic!
  • Give back to the community
  • Don't procrastinate, just do it

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I demand FASTER and CHEAPER Internet in Malaysia!

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

  • The Government need to FORCE Telekom Malaysia (TM) to open up the last mile connection to other competitors (leasing the connection to them at an affordable rate, like what is done at UK's British Telecom)
  • Broadband is not 512K/1Mbps connections, it is supposed to be 10Mbps by today's standard
  • Broadband should cost USD 10/RM 30 per month, not RM 50-100. It some of the most expensive cities in Europe can provide that, why can't Malaysia?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dan Bricklin: What have I learned in 40 years of developing software products that people use?

Dan Bricklin is the chap who invented VisiCalc (a spreadsheet app) for the Apple II, and nowadays he seems to have fun making Notetaker HD for iPad. Father of Spreadsheet having fun making productivity iPad apps? Sounds like a wonderful life :)

So, what can we learn from him?
  • What is a Product? to get a required job done.
  • 2 week payback rule: make it a no-brainer for people to buy it (significant cost saving). 
  • General Purpose tool? Meet wider a range of need. Spreadsheet not only does accounting, but you could create timetable and tons of other stuffs.
  • Must Have: people make the decision to buy for something very specific
  • Right channel of distribution: magazine, web, app store, etc
  • What the new power can do? PC make computer games possible, and iPhone made computer games possible while on the move. 
  • Smartphone: Since it's a phone, u carry it anyway.
  • What to leave out (limited by resources or design)
  • Engineering: Keep trying, failing, get it right, make something better that your had dream of. 
  • Many people assume you would fail when you take off (which is statistically proven true). Hopefully you can keep you cash flow on a up-drift path.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Free: The Future of a Radical Price

How does free really works? Usually by giving something away for free, and get paid for something else instead. It works better in the digital world, will giving away more copies doesn’t cost significantly more money.
  • Jello – free cookbook to introduce jello to the world
  • Gillete – cheap razors expensive blades (same goes with printer)
  • Free Sample Store – charge for member entry, charge for rental of shelf space, charge for feedback collection. The Sample Store in Singapore.
  • Free Music – promotions, make money through concerts and endorsements
  • Amazon – free shipping when purchase 2 books
  • Free Newspaper – more circulation, more advertising. The Sun Newspaper anyone?
  • TED – free online video, high ticket price for networking opportunity
  • Free Stock Trading – free 10 trades per month (25% make more than 10 trades), make money through additional services like tax planning and portfolio management
  • Free Healthcare Software – sell anonymous data
  • Free Garbage Collection – recycling value

Nigel Marsh: How to make work-life balance work

Watch this video quite sometimes ago, and the speaker is quite an interesting guy who takes Work Life Balance close to his heart. So, how to make work life balance work?
  • Honest Debate: Certain jobs and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningful engage on a day to day basis with a young family. People work on the job that they hate, to buy something they don't need and to impress someone they dislike.
  • Face the Truth: Government & Corporation aren't solving it; it's up to you to design your life. Commerical corporation are inherintly designed to get as much out of you that they can get away with. Daycare at the office is nice, but it just means you would end up working longer hours.
  • Timeframe: a day is short, waiting for retirement is too long. You cannot delay life and happiness until your wife divorce you, your health fail on you and you have no more friends and interest.
  • Balance: small things matter at the right places. What's important and what's success? More money or a more meaningful life? Buying a PlayStation for your kids, or spend time bring them out and play silly games together?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Place Promised in Our Early Days

Premonition: anticipation of an event without conscious reason.

Velaciela: the Vessel to bring you to the place, where you always know you should be.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

When I first saw the Wikinomics title, I jump to the conclusion that I know most of the things about Wikipedia, Crowdsourcing, Openness and User Generated Content thingy. I assumption about the book is right, but it’s case study still provide some insights of Wikinomics beyond the common boundary of tech and web.

  • Goldcorp – A Canada gold mining company have problem identifying gold deposits after years of work and millions in expenditure. They decide to open up their data (this is a highly guarded secret) and offer a challenge to the world to identify gold hotspot based on the data. An enthusiastic army of geologist, computer scientist, mathematicians come up with ideas and suggestions never thought of before. The company went from $100 million to $9 billion.
  • Lifan – we know of open source software like Linux and Apache, how about open source hardware in motorcycle manufacturing. Company like Lifan in China, and a thriving ecosystem of suppliers in Chongqing, had built a motorcycle like building a PC (with its modular components, and standard interface). Manufacturer and Part Supplier sit down to discuss about making cheaper and better parts together.
  • Boeing – it’s no longer the time where time where Boeing come up with a 20,000 pages specifications to the suppliers to build its parts as it is. Boeing and its hundreds of suppliers sit down together since the early stage of design to decide on the best way to design and built its components together (the guys who will manufacture it should design it). They share the cost, risk and reward together. All components are assembled in DC about 3 days (much like LEGO).
  • Ideogras: P&G post up their problems and challenges, and offer rewards for those who come up with a solutions (50% of their IP are generated by outsider). Besides, they offer their IP (which many remain dormant and not used) for easy licensing by outsider. Certain market might be too small for P&G, but they are happy to license out their IP or technology.
  • Prosumers: Encouraging/supporting customers who "hack" your products, creating new features or uses that your company would have never thought of on its own. DJ like mixing of music (sadly it’s illegal to do so most of the time), Lego Mindstorm, Hacking of Kinects, PSP, etc. Kinects object it initially, but eventually embraced it; Music industry, iPod and PSP definitely rejected the idea until suing its consumer in court.
  • Human Genome Project
  • IBM contributed millions in Linux, make a profit by providing services or selling related products, while savings billions in developing their own server platform.
  • Platform for Collaboration: Contribution of idea, Open API, ability to build application on the platform and make a profit from it (Amazon allows other to create a customized version of Amazon store), etc.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Michael Pawlyn: Using nature's genius in architecture

After viewing this video, there is a sudden surge of hope for:

  • More design based on nature to increase efficiency (up to 100x)
  • A more closed loop system: nothing goes to waste, all by products is fed into another system
  • The integration of sea greenhouse, solar tower and greenhouse to create an optimize ecosystem.
Besides depending on superb design and technological breakthrough (which might be out of the reach of most people), I think we should at least have a more efficient waste management system: stop everything from going into the landfill, think of various ways to use them. Example are bio-composition of food waste to generate power, worms for fish food and fertilizer.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Web Development Skills

Web Developer used to be a lowly paid bunch as compared to their client/server developer counterparts, until the boom of Web 2.0. Web Development used to be simple, involving only ASP, Access, HTML and perhaps a little bit of JavaScript. If you are a web developer today, you probably need to be equipped with more than a dozen to programming language, skill and technology.

What skills today’s web developers need to be equipped with?
First we have some basic skills
  • HTML
  • JavaScript
  • CSS (don’t underestimate it’s power)
  • Web Development Language: PHP, C# or VB.NET for ASP.NET, Java, Perl, Ruby, Python, etc.
  • Database: MySQL or Microsoft SQL
  • Graphics Manipulation: Photoshop or GIMP skills
  • A sense of design

Server-side Skills (some System Admins doesn't even have these skill sets)
  • Amazon Web Services (and installation of LAMP stack)
  • Linux Commands, Shell Scripts, Configure Cron Jobs
  • APC or MEMCACHE configuration
  • Apache Optimization, HTACCESS configuration
  • MySQL Optimization
  • CDN configuration
  • Load Balancing (1 million visitor range)

And some slightly more advance technology
  • Google App Engine (GAE), using Python, Java or Go
  • Google Maps API
  • Google Web Toolkit, and framework (GWT-platform)
  • Web Development Framework: CakePHP/CodeIgniter, ASP.NET MVC, Spring, Ruby on Rail, etc.
  • Data Abstraction Framework: Hibernate, Objectify, ADO.NET Entity Framework
  • JavaScript Framework: jQuery, Prototype, Ext JS, etc.
  • Database: Google’s Big Table, NoSQL, Amazon’s SimpleDB
  • Chrome Web App Development
  • HTML5: Canvas, Offline Storage, File API, Sound & Video, Web Socket, CSS3, etc.
  • Search Engine Optimization, Sitemaps, RSS, etc.
  • Support for Desktop Web and Mobile Web (Smartphone, Tablets)
  • Support for Multiple Browsers: IE6/7/8/9, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera
  • Flash
  • Social Integration: Facebook Connect, Twitter API, etc.

Supporting Tech
  • Android (A great website probably have a mobile apps as well)
  • iOS
  • Desktop Tool Development (develop supporting tools for offline processing): C#, Java, etc.

I wonder how well a season web developer compensated today, especially in Malaysia. A typical good programmer in US would be paid around USD 100,000 per year (some capable of reaching USD 200-400K). It's quite pathetic that senior software developer in Malaysia get around RM 4,000-8,000 monthly (probably with not more than 1.5 months bonus), but then the rising cost of programmers would put a toll on start-ups.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Whisper of the Heart

It's nice title, nice music, nice anime, nice story, and a nice lesson too precious to be tucked away.

Do follow your heart, as you would find peace, and purpose.

No matter how disagreeing the world or the people around, follow through, as it's meant to be a test.

If you have forgotten or given up, don't be lost and start looking again.

Even if you don't have yours, don't stop others from finding theirs, help them.

Follow your heart, as there isn't any other ways, to live the life you always wanted.

Country road
If you follow this road onward
It continues to that town, I think
Country road

By myself, without fear
I dreamed of going
Shutting up my loneliness
Protecting my strong self, I'll go

* repeat

Getting tired of walking then standing still
Floating closer, my hometown
The uphill road winding around the hill
I'm scolding that me

* repeat

No matter what discouraging times there are
I'll never show any tears
Without heart, I'll hurry and set myself free
In order to get rid of my memories

Country road
Even though this road continues to my hometown
I just can't go, I can't go
Country road

Country road
Tomorrow, the me I always am
I want to go back, but I can't, farewell
Country road